Senate debates

Monday, 9 December 2013

Questions without Notice

Carbon Pricing

2:44 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Minister for Finance) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator McKenzie for that question and for her strong commitment to the sustainability and competitiveness of agricultural businesses. Every day that Labor obstructs the abolition of the carbon tax is another day they stand for higher electricity prices. Every day Labor stands in the way of the abolition of the carbon tax they stand in the way of bringing down the cost of doing business in Australia and they stand in the way of improving our international competitiveness; improving international competitiveness, of course, for industries like the car industry or the agricultural industry indeed. Labor knows that the carbon tax pushes up the cost of doing business because that is what they designed it to do. And for businesses operating in highly competitive markets there is often limited capacity for them to pass on increased costs which, of course, undermines their viability and puts jobs at risk.

I refer to comments made by the National Farmers Federation, which pointed out that for an average-sized farm, farmers are facing additional costs of up to $10,000 a year. I quote from evidence:

… agriculture remains a heavily affected sector due to the flow on costs allocated to electricity and transport, and by the pass through costs from agricultural processors.

Our farmers:

… were not only competing against heavily subsidised farmers from around the world, but also farmers in overseas countries without a carbon tax.

The National Irrigators' Council said last week:

When in Government the Labor Party claimed ‘electricity prices are too high by global standards’. We know. We are the ones paying the bills which have doubled.

The prices we receive for our products have certainly not doubled during that period.

…   …   …

Farmers are price takers who operate on low margins. A small increase in fixed costs can have a drastic impact on their profitability.

Labor's carbon tax operates as a reverse tariff and it should go. (Time expired)


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